back to Screen-Friendly page

Bar Association of San Francisco Member Benefits: Publications

The Changing Face of Google and What it Means for Your Law Firm Website


By Ken Matejka, Legal PPC


Google has undergone significant changes recently and it’s important for all providers of local services, especially lawyers, to be aware of the changes in a continuing effort to make your law firm website more visible in Google.

Last summer Google started giving consistent local results for searches based on your physical location. You can now search for local services, like legal services, without a geographic qualifier (for example, “divorce lawyer” rather than “san francisco divorce lawyer”).

There are three ways that lawyers can get their websites onto the first page of Google’s search results: through (1) Google Places, (2) search engine optimization, and (3) Google AdWords paid advertising.

Join me on April 28 as I give a CLE presentation on this topic in much more depth, but here it is in brief.

Google Places

Google Places (former Google Local Business) is how you give Google details about your law firm like where it’s located, its web address, practice areas and operating hours. To update your Google Places information, you need to claim and verify your Places page. It’s free so get started at

Search Engine Optimization (SEO)

SEO refers to deliberate actions you take in your website’s copy and source code, and elsewhere on the web to convince Google that your website is relevant for a handful of predetermined phrases (for example, “san francisco auto accident lawyer”). By making sure that your website is sufficiently rich in these phrases and that good websites link back to you, Google will perceive you as more relevant and will place you higher in its results. SEO is a long-term, complicated process which could take several months to bear fruit.

Google AdWords (aka, Sponsored Listings)

Google’s Sponsored Listings are little ads that you see in the pink zone at the top of a Google search results page and in the right hand margin of the page. Attached to phrases that you select (for example, “personal injury lawyer”), you write ads and pay Google when a Google user clicks on the ad, taking them to a page on your website. AdWords can deliver immediate results because your ads begin running as soon as you’ve provided billing information to Google.


Ken Matejka is a California attorney who co-founded LegalPPC, a search engine advertising company dedicated to helping lawyers and lawyer referral services get more clients through Google advertising. He can be reached at

Our partners at BASFAhern Insurance Brokerage